We had the good fortune of connecting with Makensey Gates and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Makensey, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Prior to the pandemic, I was a freelance Retail Consultant. I was typically wrapped up in projects for large corporate companies and that all came to a screeching stop when everything shut down with no end in sight. I knew I needed to pivot quickly, and I knew that I wasn’t willing to compromise my desire to have work + life balance, my need to control my schedule and the desire to engage with people despite being told we shouldn’t. People thought I was crazy for starting a retail store in a moment when people claimed “Retail is dying”, but the equestrian industry was the perfect place to do so.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Who I am today professionally is a result of being a jack of all trades and a master of NONE while constantly saying “YES!” at anything that came my way. I am endlessly curious, and because of that I’ve thrown myself into multiple industries and projects. I started out going to school at The Ohio State University for Art History and Communications. Still wanting to tap further into my creative needs, I also attended a program with Paul Mitchell where I became an educator and stylist, traveling to work in their focus salons and teaching from Utah to San Diego to Chicago. I loved life on the road and meeting new people all the time, so following a stint living in a log cabin in Colorado, I ventured back to where it all began- Columbus, Ohio to work at L Brands for Bath & Body Works Home Office. I consulted with a friend and her company for projects with everyone from Vans to Victoria’s Secret before landing on what is now today Mountain Mercantile- a retail concept where I’ve taken pieces of everything I’ve learned along the way to create a fun, inclusive and experiential shopping experience. The biggest lesson I’ve learned on this journey is that we are only here once… try it all, do it all, and love as much of it as you can. If you don’t love it, at least learn from it and move on.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We live on a little horse farm in the Santa Monica mountains, so we always love to start someone’s trip at our house entertaining. We love to whip up fresh made margaritas and snack on the cheese boxes or crudite boxes from Lady and Larder- the BEST cheese and specialty grocery store in LA. For shopping, DTLA is really turning into a cool spot for retail and food. If you even like jewelry in the slightest, I’m taking you to DylanLex- who now has a brick and mortar in the DTLA shopping area that also features vintage finds. Cavaletti Vineyards not only makes incredible wines, but they’re making them from grapes right out of Southern California. We stock up on their Rose by the case, and they have a red for everybody. We love popping into their tasting room for a flight and a chat with their owner Pat. Broad Beach in Malibu is a favorite beach stop- if you go at low tide, there are little pools around the rocks with starfish and crabs. The food options are endless in LA, but for Italian I really love Nonna in Westlake, for sandwiches you can’t beat Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits and Cheese, Topanga Living has the best healthy options after a hike in Tuna Canyon, and as a girl who went to college in Columbus, Ohio you can’t beat the hometown favorite, Jeni’s Ice Cream, for a scoop or three! Jeni Britton Bauer is a genius of frozen treats.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When I started the idea of Mountain Mercantile, so many people thought I was crazy to jump into a retail store concept during Covid. I had 2 people in my life who never felt that way- my best friend and consulting collaborator Jaclyn Evans and my partner McKenna Skelton, who is also a professional equestrian. They both introduced me to the wild and wonderful world of horses and everything that comes along with it. Jaclyn recognized from the beginning of Mountain Mercantile that there was a need for this style of store within the Horse Show world and helped me get the business up and running in a matter of a month. McKenna, having no real DIY experience to speak of, said “yes” to every crazy idea I had and even installed the floors for the shop by hand and allowed the inventory for the shop to take over our entire house in the process. It takes a village…. a village of crazy horse girls!

Website: www.MountainMercantileShop.com

Instagram: @mountain.mercantile

Other: Makensey@MountainMercantileShop.com

Image Credits
Katie Browne, Image By Katie

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